The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
20th June to 1st July 1946

One Hundred and Fifty-Ninth Day: Thursday, 20th June, 1946
(Part 3 of 10)

[DR. FLAECHSNER continues his direct examination of Albert Speer]

[Page 9]

Q. What consequences did this have on the recruitment of labourers in the occupied Western countries?

A. After the establishment of the blocked industries, the labour commitment from the occupied countries in the West to Germany decreased to a fraction of what it had been. For instance, before that, eighty to a hundred thousand workers came from France to Germany every month. After the establishment of the blocked industries, this figure decreased to the insignificant number of three to four thousand a month, as is evident from Exhibit RF 22.

[Page 10]

It is obvious, and we have to state the facts, that the decrease in these figures was also due to the resistance movement which began to expand in the West at that time.

Did you and your offices endorse the policies followed by Sauckel at that time?

A. No. At that time the first serious differences arose about the "blocking" of these workers for labour commitments in Germany. This came about through the fact that the loss of my workers employed in industry in the occupied countries was larger than the number of workers who came to Germany from the occupied countries of the West.

This may be seen from Exhibit RF 22. According to it about four hundred thousand workers were transported from France to Germany in 1943. Industrial workers in France, however, decreased by eight hundred thousand, and the French workers in France who worked for Germany decreased by four hundred and fifty thousand workers.

Q. Why did you demand to take over the entire German production from the Ministry of Economics in the summer of 1943?

A. According to my opinion, there was still a considerable labour reserve latent in Germany, because the German peace economy had not been converted into a war economy on a sufficiently large scale. Here was, in my opinion, next to the German women workers, the largest reserve of the German labour supply.

Q. What did you do when the total economy was handed over to you by the Ministry of Economics?

A. At that time, I had already worked out the following plan. A large part of the industry in Germany produced so-called consumer goods. Consumer goods are, for instance, shoes, clothing, furniture, and other articles necessary for the armed forces and for civilian requirements. In the occupied Western territories, however, the industries which supplied these products were kept idle, as the raw materials were lacking.

My plan was to deprive German industries of the raw materials which were produced in Germany, such as synthetic wool, and send them to the West. Thereby, in the long run, a million workers were to be supplied with work in the occupied Western territories, and thus I would have freed one million German workers in Germany for armament production.

Q. Did you not want to increase armament production or help it along in France as well?

A. No. However, all these plans failed. Before the outbreak of war, the French Government did not succeed in building up armament production in France, and I also failed, or rather my agencies failed, in this task.

Q. What were your intentions with this new plan? What advantages did you gain?

A. I will comment on it quite briefly. Through this plan I could close down numbers of industries in Germany and in that way free not only workers, but also factories and administrative personnel for armament production. I also saved electricity and transport. Apart from that, since these industries had never been of importance for the war effort, they had hardly received any foreign workers; and thus I almost exclusively obtained German workers for the German production - workers, of course, who were more valuable, much more valuable than any foreign workers.

Q. Did such a plan not entail dangers and disadvantages for the German industrial development?

A. The disadvantages were considerable, since any closing down of an industry meant the taking out of machinery, and at the end of the war a re-conversion to peace-time production would take at least six to eight months. At that time, at a Gauleiter meeting at Posen, I said that if we wanted to be successful in this war, we would have to be those who made the greater sacrifices.

Q. How was this plan put into reality?

[Page 11]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Flaechsner, what has the Tribunal got to do with the details of these plans? What do we care whether his plans were efficient or whether they were inefficient? The only question this Tribunal has got to decide is whether they were legal in accordance with the Charter of International Law. It does not matter to us whether his plans were good plans or bad plans, or what the details of the plans were, except in so far as they are legal or illegal.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Yes, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: It is a mere waste of our time to go into the details of these plans.

DR. FLAECHSNER: I wanted to show that the tendencies, or rather the tendency followed by the defendant in his policy was to employ foreigners in their own country and to use the German reserves solely for his own purpose; that is, for armament proper. Thus everything which -

THE PRESIDENT: But, Dr. Flaechsner, that is a question of efficiency, not of legality. What he is saying is that he had a lot of German workers, good workers, and they were producing consumer goods instead of producing armament goods. He thought it better to transfer certain industries so that the workers could remain in France or the other Western countries.

What have we got to do with that? If they were forced to work there, it is just as illegal as if they had been brought to Germany to be forced to work. At least, that is the suggestion that is made by the prosecution.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Yes, but I thought and believed -

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): We will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will hear defendant's counsel at two o'clock tomorrow afternoon on the question of the apportionment of time for the defendants' counsel's speeches.


Q. Herr Speer, please tell us briefly how you and Mons. Bichelonne, the French Minister of Economics, agreed on your programme; but, please be concise.

A. Immediately after taking over production in September, 1943, I agreed with Bichelonne that a large-scale programme of shifting industry from Germany to France should be put into operation, according to the system I already described. In an ensuing conference, Bichelonne stated that he was not authorized to talk about labour assignment with me for Minister Laval had expressly forbidden him to do so. He had to point out, he said, that a further recruitment of workers on the present scale would make it impossible to adhere to the programme which we had agreed upon. I was of the same opinion. We agreed, therefore, that the entire French production, beginning with coal, right up to the finished products, should be declared as "blocked industries." In this connection, both of us were perfectly aware of the fact that this would almost stop the recruitment of workers for Germany, since, as I have already explained, every Frenchman was free to enter one of these blocked industries, once he had been called up for work in Germany. I gave Bichelonne my word that I should adhere to this principle for a lengthy period, and, in spite of all difficulties which occurred, I kept my promise to him.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, in connection with this I should like to quote from Document R-124, which is Exhibit USA 179. It is on Page 37 of the English document book. It is a speech of Sauckel's before the Central Planning Board which has been mentioned frequently. I quote:

"When I came to France the next time my agencies in France stated: Minister Bichelonne has concluded an agreement with Minister Speer according to which only French workers are to be considered for employment in France and none of them need go to Germany any more."

[Page 12]


Q. Herr Speer, what were the consequences of this change-over of labour commitment from Germany to France?

A. I have already mentioned that. Beginning with 1st October, recruitment of labour almost came to a complete standstill.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Later on I shall comment in detail on the documentary evidence of the effect of this Speer-Bichelonne plan and on the policy pursued by Speer in connection with the various attempts to carry out this principle at a later date. At this moment I shall, therefore, discontinue the questions on the subject and I shall confine myself to quoting from the official French Document, RF 22, Page 20 of the English text of my document book, Page 17 of the German and French texts: I quote:

"Finally, a real hostility arose between Sauckel and Speer who was commissioned with the organization of forced labour in the occupied territories."
And then a few lines farther on:
"The superiority of the first mentioned over the latter which made itself felt more and more during the course of the occupation facilitated to a large degree the resistance against the removal of workers."
The text shows that -

THE PRESIDENT: That is all cumulative; that's what you have been proving three or four times already.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Very well, I shall not continue with it.


Q. I only want to rectify a mistake, Herr Speer. It is mentioned in the document that you had something to do with organising forced labour in France; is that true?

A. No, the organization of labour in France was not under my control.

Q. You have already mentioned that this Verlagerungsprogramm (shifting of labour commitment) was not only confined to France. Will you tell me to which other countries that also applied?

A. The programme was extended to Belgium, Holland, Italy and Czechoslovakia. The entire production in these countries was also declared blocked, and the labourers in these blocked industries were given the same protection as in France; even after the meeting with Hitler on 4th January, 1944, during which the new programme for the West for 1944 was agreed upon, I adhered to this policy. The result was that during the first half of 1944 only 33,000 workers came from France to Germany of the five hundred thousand planned for at that conference; and from other countries, too, only about ten per cent of the proposed workers were taken to Germany.

Q. What about the figures applying to workers from the Protectorate?

A. Everywhere only a fraction of the numbers proposed were sent.

Q. A Document 1739-PS, Exhibit RF 10, has been submitted by the prosecution. It is on Page 23 of the English text of my document book and it is a report by Sauckel, dated December, 1942; furthermore, there is Document 1290-PS, on Page 24 of the English text, which has also been submitted. These documents appear to show that, according to Sauckel's personal assertions, from the beginning of his activities until March, 1943, there was an excess supply of labour. Is that true?

A. Yes, that is true.

Document 16-PS, Exhibit USA 168, which is on Page 25 of the English text of my document book, also shows that Sauckel was not in favour of using German women in the armament industry, but in the summer of 1942 he had several hundred thousand Ukrainian girls placed at the disposal of German householders.

These three documents, in their entirety, show that Speer, in his Ministry, cannot be held responsible for the total figure of workers who came to Germany.

[Page 13]

I should also like to present, Mr. President, Document 02 in the document book, Speer Exhibit 8, and it is on Page 26 of the English text. It refers to a meeting of the Central Planning Board.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Flaechsner, you are not stating the exhibit numbers of any of these documents, so that you are not offering them properly in evidence at all. I mean you are referring now to 02, which is some numbering which we have got nothing whatever to do with.

DR. FLAECHSNER: May I then present this document as Exhibit 8?

THE PRESIDENT: What about the one before? Oh, that is already in. Perhaps it would be well to submit a list afterwards, giving the proper exhibit numbers for all these documents you are referring to.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Yes, Mr. President, I shall be glad to do that. I should like to quote - this is a remark made by Speer:

"For this it is necessary to supply the industries with new German workers, even unskilled labour, because I cannot replace with foreigners all those whom we have to give up as soldiers. The German supply is simply becoming too scanty. Already today we are having one case of sabotage after another and we do not know their origin. Cases of sabotage will increase. The measures which will have to be taken in order to switch at least one million Germans over to the armament industry are extremely hard and will, in my opinion, lower the entire living standard of the upper classes. Therefore, it means that, roughly speaking, we are all going to be proletarians for the duration of the war. This matter has to be considered coolly and soberly. There is no other alternative."
This opinion and project of Speer, namely, to exploit ruthlessly the labour reserve within Germany, was not realised until the summer of 1944. And this was a subject for argument between Speer on one side and Sauckel and the Gauleiter on the other. The testimony of the witnesses in the questionnaires will deal with it. To assist the Tribunal I should like to state that with Schieber it is the answer to question 22; with Roland, to I and 4; with Kehrl, to 9; and in the case of Schmelte, answers to 13 and 16. Unfortunately, I cannot give the pages in the English book, Mr. President, because I have not yet seen it.

THE PRESIDENT: What was the document you were referring to?

DR. FLAECHSNER: Mr. President, the filled-in questionnaires in the supplement volume of my document book, which I hope is now in the hands of the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it is.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Besides, I should like to reserve the right to submit these documents in toto at the end of my examination. I am only taking the liberty of referring to the points in which the witnesses have dealt with this question.


DR. FLAECHSNER: Furthermore, we are informed about the different opinions presented by Sauckel and Speer through a conference of Speer's during a meeting of the Central Planning Board on 21st December, 1943. I refer to Page 27 of the English text of my document book and it will be my Exhibit 9. I quote -

TH E PRESIDENT: You do not need to quote it, Dr. Flaechsner. I thought I had made it clear to you that we are not concerned with the efficiency or the inefficiency of these plans.


Q. Herr Speer, there is an important document submitted by the prosecution. It is the minutes of a meeting with Hitler on 4th January, 1944. It has been submitted as Document 1292-PS, Exhibit USA 225. I refer to Page 28 of the English text of my document book. How was this meeting arranged?

A. It was called by request of Hitler.

[Page 14]

Q. For what reason?

A. To settle the arguments between Sauckel and myself.

Q. And what was Hitler's decision?

A. His decision was a useless compromise, as was often the case with Hitler. These blocked industries were to be maintained, and for this purpose Sauckel was given the order to obtain three and a half million workers from the occupied territories. Hitler gave strictest instructions through the High Command of the Armed Forces to the military commanders, that Sauckel's request should be met by all means possible.

Q. Did you agree to this decision?

A. No, not at all; for it meant that my programme of shifting the labour commitment to the West would collapse.

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